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Us 23, Ms. Ros-lehtinen 11, U.s. 7, Joe Biden 4, Mcconnell 4, South Carolina 4, Florida 4, California 4, Harry Reid 3, John Boehner 2, Barbara Boxer 2, To Do 2, United States 2, John Thune 2, Feinstein 2, Mr. Connolly 2, New York 2, West Virginia 2, Lord 1, Reed 1,
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  CSPAN    Washington This Week    News/Business.  

    December 30, 2012
    6:30 - 8:00pm EST  

longer trust anyone in his organization after a reward was offered on his head. he said i felt like a hunted man and so, he was turned in. well, that was the plan to make him feel like a hunted man, to make him feel like he couldn't trust anyone in his organization. this bill would expand this program to additionally target those transnational organized criminals, those wanted for the most serious human rights abuses. today, unfortunately, those involved in that line of work are diversifying. they are looking to sell anything to anybody, it could be arms, it could be intellectual property, it's even people. the overlap between the networks employed by criminals and employed by terrorists is growing. so this legislation helps us keep pace.
and very importantly. the legislation also allows the rewards program to target those wanted for genocide, to target those wanted for war crimes, for crimes against humanity, again, the world's human worst human rights abusers. it would be killers and the top commanders of the lord's resistance army. this group has terrorized across central africa for over two decades unspeakable crimes committed against children, amputations committed against children, taking child soldiers, taking sex slaves. in accordance with u.s. policy, a small team of u.s. troops are currently in the field helping local forces hunt this killer. .
they believe an effort to could help bholser their efforts, they are asking for this, they think this can make a difference on the ground. let's answer their call and send this bill to the president for his signature and i thank my colleagues for their support. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady reserves her time they have gentleman from california is recognized. mr. berman: yes, mr. speaker, i have no further requests for time and will yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from california yields back. the gentlelady from florida. ms. ros-lehtinen: i also have no further requests for time and i yield back the balance of our time. the speaker pro tempore: the the question is, will the house suspend the rules and pass senate 2318. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 -- ms. ros-lehtinen: mr. speaker, i object to the vote on the grounds that a quorum is not present and make a point of order that the quorum is not present. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, further proceedings on this
motion will be postponed. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from florida. ms. ros-lehtinen: i move that the house suspend the rules and pass s.j. 44. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the 250eu9le of -- title of the joint resolution. the clerk: senate joint resolution 44, granting the consent of congress to emergency management assistance memorandum of understanding. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from florida, ms. ros-lehtinen, and the gentleman from verge, mr. connolly, each will control 20 minutes. ms. ros-lehtinen: i ask that all members have five legislative days to revise and extend than include extraneous material on this bill. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentlelady is recognized. ms. ros-lehtinen: i will place my statement in the record and reserve the plans of our time. the speaker pro tempore: the
gentleman from virginia is recognized. mr. connolly: i thank my colleague for her eloquence on this matter, i also support the resolution, will insert a statement into the record and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. ms. ros-lehtinen: i yield back the balance of our time. the speaker pro tempore: the question is, will the house suspend the rules and agree to joint resolution 44. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 being in the affirmative -- ms. ros-lehtinen:, mr. speaker, i object to the vote on the grounds that a quorum is not present and make a point of order that a quorum is not present. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed. pursuant to clause 8 of rule 20, proceedings will resume on motions to suspend the rules previously postpone. votes will be taken in the
following order. h.r. 3159, h.r. 4057, s. 3202. de novo. the first electronic vote will be conducteds a 15-minute vote. remaining electronic votes will be conducted as five-minute votes this eunfinished business is the question on suspending the rules and passing h r. 3159 as amended. the clerk: h.r. 3159, a bill to direct the president in consultation with the department of state, united states agency on development, millennium challengeing orny sigs and the department of defense to establish guidelines for the challenge program and for other purposes -- programs. the speaker pro tempore: the question is will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill as amended. those in favor say aye. posees -- those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair --
ms. ros-lehtinen: mr. speaker, on that i ask for the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. those favoring a vote by the yeas and nays will rise. a sufficient number having risen, the yeas and nays are ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a 15-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
the speaker pro tempore: on this vote, the yeas are 390. the nays are zero. 2/3 being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended and the bill is passed and without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. the unfinished business is on motion of suspending the rules and concurring in the senate -- without objection, the title is amended. the unfinished business is the question on suspending the rules and concurring in the senate amendment to h.r. 4057 which the clerk will report by title. the clerk: h.r. 4057 an act to amend title 38 united states code to direct the secretary of veterans affairs to develop a comprehensive policy to improve
outreach and transparency to members of the armed forces through the provision of information on institution of higher learning and for other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: the question is, will the house suspend the rules and concur in the senate amendment. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, 2/3 being in the affirmative -- >> mr. speaker, i ask the unions. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york. the yeas and nays are requested. those favoring a vote by the yeas and nays will rise. a sufficient number having arisen, the yeas and nays are ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a five-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
the speaker pro tempore: on this vote, the yeas are 392 the nays are three. 2/3 being in the affirmative, the rules are suspended, the bill is passed and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. the -- for what purpose does the gentleman from michigan rise? >> mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent to speak out of order for the purpose of making an announcement. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman is recognized. the house will come to order. the house will come to order. the house will come to order.
the gentleman from michigan is recognized. >> thank you, mr. speaker. in light of the anticipated house consideration of senate bill 3454, the intelligence authorization act for f.y. 2013, to tomorrow -- tomorrow, i wish to announce that the classified schedule of authorizations and the classified annex accompanying senate bill 3454 will be available for review by members at the offices of the permanent select committee on intelligence in room h.b.c. 304 of the capitol visitor's center beginning tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. i recommend that all members wishing to review the classified annex contact the committee's director of security to arrange a time for that view, this will ensure the availability of committee staff to assist members to desire assistance during their review of these classified materials. i urge interested members to review these materials in order to better understand the committee's recommendations. the classified annex to senate
bill 3454 contain's the committee's recommendations on the intelligence budget for fiscal year 2013 and related classified information that cannot be disclosed publicly. it is important that members keep in mind that requirements of clause 13 of house rule 23, which only permits access to classified information by those members of the house who have signed the oath and met the requirements provided for in the rule. i thank you, mr. speaker. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, five-minute voting will resume. the unfinished business is the vote on passing s. 3202, which the clerk will report by title. the clerk: senate 3202, an act to amend united states code -- title 38 united states code that u.s. veterans with no known next of kin can receive a dignified burial fndar other purposes. the speaker pro tempore: the
question is, will the house suspend the rules and pass the bill. those in favor say aye. poyspose. the gentleman from new york. >> may i ask for the yeas and nays. the speaker pro tempore: the yeas and nays are requested. those favoring a vote by the yeas and nays will rise. a sufficient number having risen, the yeas and nays are ordered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a five-minute vote. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
the speaker pro tempore: on this vote, the yeas are 393, the nays are zero. 2/3 being in the affirmative thembing rules are suspended, the bill is passed and without objection the motion to reconsider is laid on the table. for what purpose does the gentlelady from florida rise? ms. ros-lehtinen: thank you, mr. speaker. i ask unanimous consent that when the house adjourns today it adjourn to meet tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. for morning hour debate and at 10:00 a.m. for legislative business. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mts ros-lehtinen: thank you. -- ms. ros-lehtinen: thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the chair will entertain requests for one-minute speeches. for what purpose does the gentleman from south carolina rise?
>> revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. wilson: mr. speaker, i am grateful for the opportunity to recognize eric dell, chief of staff of the second district of south carolina. eric has accepted -- to serve as senior vice president for the national merchandising association. this is a tremendous vote of confidence and his confidence, dedication and integrity. there are no words to express the amount of appreciation i have for eric and his service to south carolina's second congressional district over the last 11 yeerings. throughout my years in public service, whether it be deciding to run for office, serving in the south carolina senate, or representing constituents in congress, i can always count on eric to offer his support to myself, my family or any constituent in need. he is devoted to serve the people of south carolina. it is with mixed feelings but great happiness i bid eric farewell. he and his wife will always be
cherished by me and my wife, rocks an, and our sons for their friendship. god speed. happy anniversary to my wife, roxanne, the love of my life, that i married 35 years ago this moment, at colombia's first presbyterian church in a ceremony. in conclusion, god bless our troops and we will never forget september 11 and the global war on terrorism. the speaker pro tempore: are there further requests for one-minute speeches? the chair lays before the house the following personal requests. the clerk: leave of absence requested for ms. roybal-allard of california for today and for wednesday, january 2, 2013. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. the request is granted. pursuant to clause 12-a of rule 1, the house will stand in
recess subject to the call of the chair. >> what can you tell us of the
discussions? guest: we have had a topsy-turvy day, but not a lot of action. we have democrats who started the day saying republicans threw in demand to change the way entitlement benefits are paid out and that was a non-starter. this said they would not move until republicans took that on the table. they have not gotten a counter offer back from democrat so they say they are waiting to see where they are. both sides huddled with their caucuses today. they said they were fine with taking that demand of the table, but they're still trying to balance the entire budget on the backs of the middle class. what i hear from people who were working the negotiations is that across-the-board defense
and entitlement cuts going into effect are a big sticking point in these negotiations. people are trying to avoid taxes going up automatically and there is a spending side trying to make sure these do not happen and a sticking point for how and if they avoid these will trying to avert the tax increases. guest: i was in the scrum of reporters as he walked out of the democratic caucus meeting. he asked senator reid if he planned to make a counteroffer and he said, i just did, and he kept walking. shortly thereafter, i spoke to his spokesperson is saying that
he was just being rhetorical. i don't know if that was just a bit of harry reid your market -- humor or she had made a counteroffer and they did not want to make it public. that is how it has been. lots of information, lots of lawmakers trafficking. not a lot of good, solid information as these are pending. >> one story is that much mcconnell had gone to speak with vice president biden. what can you tell us? guest: the republican leader calls joe biden off the bench. it is what we had been waiting for. the senate republican leader and the vice-president have a good working relationship. we saw that in the debt ceiling debate. they swooped in at the and down
the made the deal happen. -- at the end and made it happen. it was an interesting move by mitch mcconnell to call joe biden today and try to jump- start these negotiations when they locked up with the majority leader on the democratic side. i think that will be something to watch here in the coming hours. how will it play? there are many concern that maybe you will cut a bad deal. will joe biden come in to embolden the republicans or will the democrats altogether across pennsylvania avenue? a big story line we are all watching now very closely. >> we hear senator reed wants to bring them back at 11. is it likely they will have some kind of deal or counteroffer in hand when the gavel back in?
guest: i wish i could tell you. if i could, i would be a millionaire. i would have all kinds of future telling here that none of us can discern. the hope is that there could be some kind of deal, but remember democrats feel they're in a strong position here. but they cannot get a deal for them to sign on to, they want to put a skilled plan on the floor of the senate and there them to block it. it's unclear what will happen. it may even pass the senate, move to the house, and create momentum that way. there is a lot to watch year and a lot of moving pieces and no one is quite sure where it all ends. >> what is the income level senators are looking at? guest: the president has put out to a hundred 50,000. many assume that is what will happen if harry reid put the
president's plan on the floor. the negotiations over that are a big sticking point. i have heard from republicans that it may have gone as high as $500,000. they say they are negotiating but they will not say the number. i hear it may be as high as $500,000. >> thank you for the update. midafternoon today, senator john thune spoke with reporters on where things stand on the fiscal cliff. >> where do things stand as far as a republican deal? >> republicans advanced a proposal last night and you heard senator mcconnell talk about it on the floor. we're still waiting for a counteroffer. there was an indication we would receive the by 10:00 this morning, but discussions still
continue. senator mcconnell and vice president joe biden are continuing to discuss this and we think there still could be a path forward. democrats have come out and made a huge deal out of changing this and republicans are very concerned that it should not be used as an offset to reduce or replace some of the spending cuts that would occur and democrats put forward an alternative. this is a process. there's a lot of give-and-take going on. republicans do not want to see new revenue, democratic tax increases, being used for new spending. that is where many members are drawing the line. >> you all want to use this technical level, but it would really affect social security recipients in the sequester.
democrats want to use new revenue from tax increases. is that the way you see that? >> there are other issues involved, but that is one example. it is not about replacing the sequester today. it is about changing policy to protect social security in the long run. if democrats do not accept it as an offset, come up with something else. raising taxes to pay for new spending is not something that republicans believe this debate ought to be about. a dog to be reducing the deficit and debt. they say they want higher taxes on people in this country to pay for new spending. >> you have spoken a few times with the prize -- the vice president and it seems they have been able to come up with bipartisan deals. did he give you an indication
that you just had with fellow republicans that it may be an avenue of success? >> there were conversations and discussions between us and we remain hopeful that it will be a breakthrough. obviously, what happened here between the two leaders in the senate had broken down because they had come forward with a counter offer to what republicans said last night. hopefully the discussions between the vice-president and senator mcconnell will get us back on track and we will have a breakthrough and something we can vote on today or tomorrow to avert what we all believe would be an economic disaster. >> harry reid is as if you cannot come up with something by tonight that he will push a scaled-down version of what the president asked for, the tax cuts on everyone making above $250,000. you say knowing your colleagues that enough republicans will
cross over and allow that to pass if it does not get the 50 votes needed? >> it's hard to say. this is what i would say about that. if that is where we end up and they decide to move that along to the floor and maybe you get the house to pass the extension as a deal, i would open it up to the amendment process. give us an opportunity to debate some of these things that we think should be a part of it. if history is a guide, they will take a bill until the amendments to allow that. we would welcome the opportunity to have an open debate on the floor of the senate with the american people watching. >> we appreciate your time. thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
>> senator john soon from this afternoon. -- john thune. the house will be back tomorrow. the house gaveled out 10 minutes ago and they will be back tomorrow at 9:00, i thought for legislative work. the senate will be on c-span 2. republican conference is reportedly meeting at this hour. reporting with a roll-call saying the republican conference is apparently playing "come together" in their conference meeting, on twitter. the first speaker was center barbara boxer from california calling on the congress to act on the fiscal cliff. -- senator barbara boxer.
>> we can sit here and watch what is happening. we know that there are negotiations going on to avert at least part of the fiscal cliff. i want to say, and i have said this privately and publicly that i really hope our leaders can find a way out of this. i watched the president's speech today and i thought, as usual, he was very fair in what he said. what he basically said it is it is the middle class who grows this economy, the middle class needs to be lifted up, the middle class to cannot afford the tax hikes down those at the very top can give just a little bit more. it is a very simple point. i just would hope, given that everyone says it is not about
class, and i know they say that every day on the other side of the aisle. finding this compromise will not be inclusive but will come to pass. . you you know, i have been here for a while. my understanding is we have not met between -- christmas and new years since 1962. it takes something of major proportion to make that happen. we are in a crisis, but it is a self-made one. it is not some exterior attack on our country which we could not prevent. it is not, god forbid, a
terrible virus running across the land. it is, to me, something that is not that complicated. as the president said, we have a series of tax cuts that are expiring. if we let them expire, it means there will be a huge tax cut, mostly hitting the middle class and the working poor. the upper incomes, the people in that category have done so well that even they think they would have to talk to their accountants before they even knew there was any impact on their tax bill. so we can come together. the president's favored limit would be $250,000. that means everyone who earns up to that would get a tax break
-- everybody's in come up to $250,000 gets that, 100% of the people. those fortunate enough to the higher incomes would go back to the tax rates that prevailed when bill clinton was president. why the other side is horrified by that is perplexing to me. because i look back at the clinton era -- i was here. that is a long time ago. i was here. i came through the senate with senator feinstein when bill clinton was president. he faced similar issues in that we had a deficit that was getting out of control, debt that was getting out of control. we needed to have growth. so he put forward a plan, a budget plan, that invested in our people, invested in the infrastructure, invested in education, and at the same time said we can find cuts in other
areas and we can raise taxes on those who are doing very well. what happened with that fair and balanced approach? what happened, the greatest prosperity in modern history. 23 million jobs, no more deficit, we got to a balanced budget, and i remember saying to my husband, what is going to happen -- it will not be any more government bonds because we will be out of the debt situation. we saw it on the horizon. when george w. bush became president, he decided to go back on rates across the board to the wealthiest to the middle to the poor and he put to ban all wars on a credit card and we are where we are -- to banwo isa
credit card and here we are. we are coming out of the worst recession since the great depression. it has been difficult -- led by unfortunately some unscrupulous people on wall street who created a nightmare in the housing market. i remember saying to treasury secretary paulson, can you please explain the role of derivative ofs to me and what happened and how we got into this crisis? he put his head in his hands and he said, not now, i will talk to you later. that is not a very encouraging thing when the secretary of the treasury puts his head in his hands and says, i cannot explain it now. we are coming out of this difficult time and, guess what, we are doing much better. we had an election. it was pretty clear people want to see us reach a balance here.
so, as i stand here, i know there are negotiations going on in the rooms that surround us. i wish for the best. i hope for the best and ask for the best. there is a word called compromise. it does not mean you compromise your principles -- it means you can compromise because that is what the american people want us to do. yes. i want to give you an example. if you were out hiking and you saw -- mr. president, in your state there are a lot of hikers. you saw somebody stepped on a cliff, swinging from a rope, and you knew the only way to save them was to cut the rope -- u.s. standing with someone else and you say, cut the rope at the top. he says, cut the rope at the bottom. you stand there arguing.
meanwhile, the man is struggling on the cliff -- let me down. would it not be the smart thing to do -- would it not be smart to cut the rope with in the middle? and save the guy? you can argue later -- should i cut the rope at the top or the bottom? cut it in the middle, save the man. that is a pretty simplistic example of where we are. but i have the privilege of knowing that we can get it done when we work together. i was so proud to bring to the senate a highly bill, a transportation bill. millions of jobs were at stake. our states were worried they would stop kidding highway funds. we would have to stop road products in the middle and would not have project funds for ctransit. we sat in a room -- you could
not find people more divergent. a progressive republican and a liberal -- a conservative republican and a liberal progressive. he said i want this, i said i want that. we said, let's make a deal here. let's meet in the middle. and we did. much to everybody's surprise. the bill passed the senate. when it got to the house it got stuck. the senators and i went over to meet with john boehner and chairman -- we agreed we would get it done. neither side got everything they wanted. anyone who takes that position, in my opinion, is not putting country first. i do not care whether they are republican or democrat or anything else. we are not each of us going to get everything we want. lord knows. there is a lot i could do if i
had a want and could make it happen. but everybody has a different view of exactly how to go forward. i think we are being tested here. i know it is tough going. i know if we do not get a deal, it does not stop there, we will keep on working. but there is no reason on this beautiful god's green earth why we cannot get a deal here. if everyone is sincere in saying they want the middle-class to be protected, we can get a deal here. president obama says $250,000 -- maybe i think $350,000 is the line, maybe someone else $150,000 -- we can meet somewhere and cut down -- cut the road somewhere in the middle. and save this country from the uncertainty, the uncertainty
that plagues us right now. in the olden days, a long time ago, i was a stockbroker. i was an economics major and a stockbroker on wall street. the thing wall street and investors cannot take is uncertainty. if they no taxes are going up, they will be figure things. if they no taxes are going down, they will figure things. if they now taxes are staying the same, they will figure it out. right now it they are frozen -- they do not know. families are also in many ways frozen. they do not know whether they have to budget so that they will have $2,000 less next year. they do not know whether it will be $4,000. they do not now. the uncertainty is the fault of leaders who cannot get together.
i think it is critical that we get a deal. i hope in the next couple of hours. to me -- somebody asked me, what is the difference if you get it now or five days from now? i say the difference is the uncertainty, this pall, an unnecessary and escalating crisis -- then you say, we do not have to do it now. we do it on the fourth. get it done. america wants us to get it done. the president has shown he is willing to be flexible. he has come out with some ideas i have had to except. he is willing. i know personally how strongly he feels that $250,000 should be where we draw the line in terms of tax breaks, but he was willing to offer $400,000.
he was willing to look at changing some of our programs. very tough for him to do. but he is willing to do it even though he ran on his program and one by millions of votes on his program. so with the president can be flexible, and say, okay, i will step back from everything i really want to do and move in the direction of the republicans, then the republicans need to move in our direction. and i think we're going to be judged by whether we are going to be stuck in the mud because we just do not have the courage to change, or whether we step forward at this moment. i think it should be this moment. if we cannot get it down, i certainly hope we will have enough to vote on the president's plan, which i feel is very fair.
the president offered a plan -- do i like everything about it? absolutely not. but he showed that he is willing to take those steps. i would hate to think that our colleagues would filibuster that and demand a 60-vote threshold as we go over this cliff. the american people are hanging from the cliff. and we can let them down gently today and solve this problem. but if all we do is stand up and stay in our corner, i am very fearful that the message is that we do not know how to meet each other halfway. that is not a good thing. voters are going to turn on the people who stand in their corners and do not move. that is not be role of legislators. i will close with this -- we have a different form of
government than they have in europe. this is not a parliamentary system. in a parliamentary system, one government rules everything. one party rules everything. you have the prime minister, you have the speaker, and the leader. all in one party. and then it you do not compromise -- you put that out there and you get your program through. if there is a lack of confidence the people can change parties. the next party comes in and does what it wants. that is not what we do here. sometimes i wish it was the form of government we have because at least there would be some action and you would now. you would not have some uncertainty -- each party has its dreams and hopes and plans. they would have to change to get this policy through. we have to meet each other halfway.
the house is run by the republicans. is -- the senate is run by the democrats but is not a super majority. the president is a democrat. we have to work together. that is the name of the game. if we can do it on the highway bill -- if they can do it on the farm bill, i now, and there are other examples -- i could give examples of senator feinstein and her republican counterparts. i could give many examples on the appropriations committee. we know we can do that we just have to do a -- take a deep breath and put our ego aside for this country's said. and make the compromises that
allows us to still stand tall. i am only 5 feet, so that is hard, but you get the point. we can do this and should do it now. if we do not do it now, we should vote on the president's plan because the people of this country deserve better than to be left hanging on a class. they do not deserve that. it is not right. thank you very much. >> earlier today on the senate floor, a couple of updates on where things stand on the fiscal cliff. he says, but the house rules committee will do at 8:00 is always derided as "martial law." he is talking about the news released by the rules committee that they will meet this evening at 8:00 p.m.. we will try to update the story for you.
one at a house republican, settling in for a delicious pizza dinner and to talk about something not involving a fiscal clift deal. and from nbc -- one rep will be "real crabby" if congress is here on wednesday -- he has rose bowl tickets. you can follow this at our fiscal cliff page at c- joe manchin introduced a new bill that he said it would soften the impact of going over the fiscal cliff. he calls it deep cliff alleviation at the last minute -- he says he is not happy to write it. here is what he said at the floor. >> thank you. i will first of all thank both of my colleagues for the diligent work -- they have committed themselves to this work and i appreciate it. mr. president, i rise today frustrated, embarrassed, and
angry. it is absolutely inexcusable that all of us find ourselves in this place at this time, standing on the floor of the senate in front of the american people hours before we plunge off the fiscal cliff. with no plan and no apparent hope. but here we are, and we have got to do something. if we are determined to go over the cliff, as we seem, we have to do something to stop and the landing. at the bottom of the fiscal cliff are immediate and massive tax increases, deep and indiscriminate spending cuts, and a risk of another recession. if we come down on the final hours -- we have to bang choices -- to do nothing and cause an unbelievable amount of hardship for our fellow americans, or to do something to reduce the suffering inflicted on our citizens by an inflexible political system. mr. president, i choose to do something. today i am introducing the act -- the cliff alleviation at the
last minute act. the act would do three important things. it will soften the financial blow the fiscal cliff, it will colmar financial markets, it gives us the certainty of a plan. it allows us, if we ever find the courage, to pursue the fiscal grand bargain that has eluded us so far. the financial markets are watching us and getting warmer -- nervous by the hour. we need to assure the market will of making good financial decisions. this bill is not something i'm excited about or proud to offer. this is not a great plan but merely a better plan been going over the cliff. it should never have come to this. we know for more than a year that this they was coming. for more than a year i have asked congress to fix our fiscal challenges. i pushed strongly for the simpson-bowles framework of
deficit reduction. and yet here we are, no closer to a sensible decision on how to bring our $1.1 trillion budget deficit and our $16 trillion public debt under control. guess what? time is up. no more games. no more excuses. no more kicking the can down the road. we have to act and we have to act in a way that puts our fiscal house in order, reassures us the financial markets -- reassures the financial markets, and put people ahead of politics. we have to deal with these tax increases and spending cuts in a humane and tolerable way. this act does all of that. think of what happens to people in need of legal over the cliff and do nothing -- below its income-tax rate will jump from 10% -- the lowest income tax rate will jump from 10% to 15%. that is a pretty big financial
issue for people in west virginia and ohio. these are people struggling now. instead of an overnight tax hike of 5%, this smooths the transaction by phasing in increases over three years. instead of a 5% increase, the 10% bracket would only go to 11.6% the first year. the act does the same with the other tax rates, phasing them in over three years under the same proportions. but the act also puts us on record in support of comprehensive over all of that tax system. we can still work towards a big fakes like the simpson-bowles framework, and if we can do that we can stop the full increase from ever occurring. another important feature of the act is the way it treats sequestration. again, if we go over the cliff and do nothing, nearly every government program will be hit with the same percentage cuts. that includes social services,
education, research, and infrastructure. all the things we need to grow our fragile economy. the act of the office of management and budget discretion and flexibility to recommend what programs and what agencies and accounts to cut. if omb fails to do the job, the sequestration cuts kick back in. of course, the final word is with us here in congress. any decision can be overridden by a joint resolution. every provision of the act is familiar to the senate -- in fact, at one time or another nearly every feature of this plan has been offered by both republicans and democrats, including president obama and speaker boehner. all i have done is pooled them together -- a compassionate alternative to what happens if we go over the fiscal cliff. true, from the very beginning i have favored a comprehensive solution to put our fiscal house in order. something along the lines of
wles-simpson planned. perhaps this will not only soften the blow, but also give us a sense of urgency about a grand bargain to repair our fragile house. i'm not so naive as to believe everybody will check their politics at the door. even at this late hour. but this is not a time for politicking, bickering, or partisan games. to allow the country to plunge over the fiscal cliff without any alternative plans to solve -- soft and the landing is completely unacceptable. i cannot think of anything more irresponsible than to let this great country go over the fiscal cliff. to play games with the lives of americans in such a callous way. to jeopardize the financial standing of our country and to alarm our financial markets in ways that could trigger another recession -- something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest
threat to the american economy is the american congress. i repeat, sir -- something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to our american economy is our american congress. it does not have to be that way. i am putting something on the table that is fair and balanced. it includes a slow phase in of the tax increases that are going to happen inevitably if we go over the cliff. it includes a slow phase in of all the increases and includes targeted spending decreases and loses closer to tax reforms. everybody helps -- we do it in a way that keeps our country strong and prosperous. this is one of those moments that the senate was intended to live up to. to provide leadership and find common ground. to level with the american people and be honest with each other. with their debt continuing to soar and to many americans still living -- looking for jobs,
these are times that demand the very best of the senate. everywhere in west virginia, and in fact all over the country, families and making tough choices about how to make ends meet. it is time for us in washington to do the same. here in the senate it seems to me we are always fighting about something. that might not change any time soon, but more often than not i believe we can rise to the common ground of great national purpose. i believe with all of my heart that this is one of those times. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. >> about a half hour on the house side -- later, john larson briefed reporters on the latest fiscal cliff news. >> the evening. in keeping with the holiday spirit, maerry everything and
happy always. would it be that we could make the american people happy by attending to the work at hand. we just concluded a caucus. our membership is as frustrated as the american people we are sworn to serve because we understand and continue to be befuddled why we cannot bring a proposal to put the country back to work. why we cannot deal with a tax cut for the middle-class, the specially when both sides agree that the country needs to go back to work. and that we need a middle-class tax relief. the president said it well --
both on friday and today. if we cannot -- if they cannot come to agreement in their own conference, if they continue to self-destruct before our eyes in their own conference, then a minimally they have a responsibility, as the president suggested, to bring his proposal to the floor for an up or down vote on behalf of the american people. that is what we continue to focus on, putting the country back to work and the jobs that everybody knows will assist in bringing down the national debt while employing our people that are out of work and addressing the problems at hand, including a tax break for the middle- class. we can only help that our
colleagues come to their senses. again, john boehner is an honorable man. i think he has outside forces in his own conference working against him, but more importantly working against the american people. it is our sincere hope that we are able to resolve this and get it done without taking this nation over the fiscal cliff. minimally, our caucus is unanimous in our support and responsibility to take a vote in the house of representatives. with that, i turn it to our vice chair. >> we do have votes -- i'll be brief. i will simply state that the house majority called us back for votes. today believe voting -- votes are beginning as we speak. our understanding is that none of the votes we will be casting
today have anything to do with the deadlines that we face in slightly more than 24 hours. we are here, we are ready, we believe there is a bill that would help address some of these deadlines that we face and the fiscal consequences of not ask -- acting on these deadlines before us. that is the bipartisan-passed bill that would protect middle- class families, many tax increases. one way or another we should get something done. the american people have asked us to do that. i know my colleagues have heard what i heard. i've heard from friends and family, from constituents back home. just get it done. we have a little more than 24 hours. let's put bills on the floor that can pass. they may not get all the republican colleagues to vote for them, but they can pass. they are balanced and have a chance to pass. we are here -- we should get
work done. let me yield to the incoming vice chair of the democratic caucus. >> thank you. i'll be brief. it feels a lot like groundhog day. this is the fifth time i have said this. i feel like i'm saying the same thing, except in the movie time really did not matter. in real life, we know we have 24 hours or so and we'll be facing dire circumstances, i think, for our nation. if we fail -- if the republican congress fails to act and work in conjunction with our president, they will lead us over the fiscal cliff. i hope that is not what they want us to do. every indication right now is that the republican congress continues to not work in good faith with the president. there is still time left -- i hope